By Jeff Moss
March 26, 2014
Long before my obsession with Barry Sanders, and years prior to taking a blood oath for Sergei Fedorov, I suffered from an unhealthy obsession with Oakland Athletics slugger Jose Canseco.
And it wasn’t solely due to the fact that I had my life savings invested into his 1986 Donruss Rated Rookie card. No, it was more than the foolish financial interest that had me obsessed with the Cuban outfielder — it was the absolute freak of nature that the guy was. A combination of speed and power never seen anywhere prior on a baseball diamond.
It was like the dude was created in a lab (turns out he was) and even as a diehard Tigers fan, I couldn’t get enough of Canseco. Not only would I make sure to attend his games at the old Tiger Stadium, I would show up early to watch the monster crush prodigious batting practice homers over the left-field roof.
Because this was the eighties and even Prodigy and Compuserve were still years away from hitting the market, I had to jump through hoops to find out how Canseco performed when his games were on the West Coast. I would actually call the Free Press sports desk after late games — the A’s box scores wouldn’t appear until two mornings after because of the early deadline — to find out how Jose did.
And this wasn’t just a once-in-a-while phone call. I DID THIS EVERY MORNING like a fucking mental patient. It got to the point where I became friendly with whomever was working the desk at the paper.
“Oh, it’s that virgin with the JewFro and Def Leppard t-shirt on the line again wanting to know if Canseco hit a home run or stole a base …..”
I enjoyed Canseco’s career for the most part and was even loyal when things got a little dicey at the end with the home run off his head, the injury while pitching, and ya know …. all of the steroids whistleblower stuff about which he was vindicated at the end of the day. Bombs measured at 600 feet were one thing; ass-raping Bud Selig on national television was even more glorious.
But until this past Sunday, I hadn’t thought of Canseco for a while. He had not been in the spotlight much since his days as a houseguest on the Surreal Life and his very short-lived career as a kick-boxer. Of course, as you might have already heard, that all changed at the annual DSR Fantasy Baseball Draft.
The DSR has hosted a Rotisserie Baseball League for the past few years. I only show up out of obligation because I abhor fantasy sports. How much do I despise this crap? Let’s put it this way. Last year I got into a bidding war for Mike Trout — my 2014 Jose Canseco — and landed him for the bargain basement price of $78.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, I PROTECTED Trout for $78 this season. The only fun part of the entire process is showing up for the auction where we all rip on each other and I get called a variety of anti-Semitic slurs.
Anyway, the league is run by Justin Spiro, who is the DSR’s second-in-command. For the he last couple of years, he has been looking to spice up the annual event with a “Higher Power” — a supposed homage to the WWE’s “Corporate Ministry” storyline where it was revealed that Vince McMahon was the shadowy power broker behind the scenes.
Spiro failed miserably a year ago when the “Higher Power” ended up being his teenage brother-in-law who knew less than nothing about baseball. How bad was that “reveal?” Well, the kid pronounced Andy Pettitte’s name …. “Andy Petite” when bidding on him. Puh-teet.
I mean, how little would you have to know about baseball to mispronounce the name of a guy who had been in the league for the last 73 years?
So Spiro got blasted for this abject failure and privately vowed to never let the group down again. His personality cocktail of desperately wanting to be liked while craving attention and wanting to host a good party drove his year-long pursuit of a “mind-blowing” surprise tenth owner.
For weeks we had been teased with hints about the “Higher Power” but no one ever guessed that it would be someone as jaw-dropping as Canseco.
But it would appear that if you throw a few grand at the first member of the “40/40 Club” and fly him in from Las Vegas (ONLY on an airline that includes in-flight TV service, mind you) and put him up for the night at the Townsend, you can get Jose at your fantasy baseball auction.
Here is the video of a cloaked Canseco making his grand appearance ….
Yep, Jose FUCKING Canseco selected a team in our rotisserie baseball league. That really happened. And after blowing through most of his budget with high-ticket players like Justin Verlander and Shin Soo-Choo, Canseco spent the next few hours attentively watching us fill out our rosters.
Or, he took a nap.
Honestly, you haven’t lived until you’ve heard the words, “Robinson Cano to Jose Canseco for 44 dollars.” That phrase alone was the DSR’s own private version of the “Surreal Life.”
The afternoon was a lot of fun — with Canseco incessantly mocking me for paying $78 for Trout, telling us various stories about the douche bag behavior of Alex Rodriguez, opining that Nolan Ryan had to be on the juice in his day, regaling us with stories of his Over-50 Softball League prowess, arguing with me that Miguel Cabrera is the best player in the majors (and totally clean) and expressing doubt that David Ortiz isn’t still using PEDs.
Canseco couldn’t have been more engaging and interesting and the only regret is we wasted five hours selecting dumb fake baseball teams instead of picking his brain about Madonna, Mark McGwire and bar brawls with Ozzie.
Hell, Spiro was terrified to ask Jose to wear the cloak in the first place, but Canseco gave him pointers on how to make the reveal even better.
Here is an example of Canseco holding court in front of a bunch of DSR Dorks, including former WDFN radio personality Sean Baligian ….
After purchasing his team — and joking that he would call his players up and offer them an HGH program to guarantee first place — and bitching that Dennis Eckersley fucked up by throwing Kirk Gibson a hanging slider, it was back to Metro Airport for Jose Canseco.
And while it might have been just another appearance fee for Canseco (it was his first fantasy baseball league, we were told), it was pretty damn cool to spend a few hours with my childhood idol.
So thanks, Spiro, for blowing the cash on this surprise and providing quality entertainment for the afternoon.
Justin claims he is already working on the 2015 “Higher Power” and promises to top himself.
If he wants to impress a Jeff Moss still reminiscing about his Orchard Lake Middle School years, he is going to have to track down the agents for Mr. T, Dirk Benedict and Dwight Schultz. And they will all need to show up in the van.
Because I love it when a plan comes together.
And this one absolutely did.